Officials surveyed damage Sunday from a volatile Occupy protest that resulted in hundreds of arrests the day before and left the historic City Hall vandalized after demonstrators broke into the building, smashed display cases, cut electrical wires and burned an American flag.
Police placed the number of arrests at about 400 from Saturday's daylong protest — the most contentious since authorities dismantled the Occupy Oakland encampment late last year.
Mayor Jean Quan condemned the local movement's tactics as "a constant provocation of the police with a lot of violence toward them" and said the demonstrations were draining scarce resources from an already strapped city. Damage to the City Hall plaza alone has cost $2 million since October, she said, about as much as police overtime and mutual aid.
Oakland has logged five homicides since Friday, and Police Chief Howard Jordan said the law enforcement "personnel and resources dedicated to Occupy reduce our ability to focus on public safety priorities."
The Occupy action was publicized by the group as a planned takeover of a vacant building that would be "repurposed" as a "social center, convergence center and headquarters of the Occupy Oakland movement." In an open letter to Quan on Wednesday, the group warned that if police attempted to thwart the takeover, "indefinite occupation" of Oakland's airport, port and City Hall could follow.
Police prevented an afternoon attempt by protesters to enter the city's idled Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. Demonstrators then headed to the nearby Oakland Museum of California, where arrests occurred after an order to disperse was ignored. One officer suffered a cut to his face when a demonstrator threw a bicycle at him, another suffered a cut hand and a third was bruised, Watson said. At least one demonstrator was injured.
Later in the night, marchers entered the downtown Oakland YMCA, where hundreds of arrests took place. The City Hall break-in occurred about the same time, officials said.
Throughout the action, some demonstrators threw bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects at officers. In a tactic that officials said they had not previously encountered, protesters also moved in on the police line carrying elaborate shields. One, displayed at City Hall on Sunday, was about 6 by 4 feet and built of corrugated metal on wood panels, complete with multiple handles. "Commune Move In" was painted on the front.